US Shot Down Iranian Drone in Iraq, WikiLeaks Confirms

The US shot down and captured an almost-completely intact Iranian surveillance drone in Iraqi territory in early 2009, not far from a refugee camp for dissident Iranians, WikiLeaks’ new Iraq logs confirm. The report, listed under “Events that may elicit political, media, or international reaction,” adds credence to US claims of Iranian interference in Iraq, while also demonstrating just how ethnically and logistically messy the US’s operations there have been.

The capture of Iran’s green-and-white, camera-carrying unarmed aerial vehicle in a border region northeast of Baghdad on February 17, 2009, was all the rage in US military and diplomatic circles. While US officials confirmed the shootdown to the media a month later, those initial news reports held few telling details. But many such details were included in the WikiLeaks report, including intelligence officers’ assessment that the downing was “potentially a politically volatile matter” in a crowded corner of Iraq’s strategic chessboard.

According to the report, the drone went down outside Combat Outpost (COP) Cobra, a “primitive” US Army base at the oil-rich crossroads of Iraqi Arab, Kurdish, and Iranian territory about 40 miles northeast of the Iraqi capital. Soldiers at the base heard a US jet flying overhead and engaging a target with machine-gun fire. “Shortly there after soldiers inside theCOP reported a plane flying overhead with a parachute, which turned out to be an almost completely intact UAV falling to the ground under parachute,” the report reads. The base sent a quick reaction force (QRF) out to inspect:

QRF was dispatched and enroute before the plane touched the ground and are currently securing the vehicle…It has a camera under the nose and no weapons. The top is colored [olive drab] green and the under side is…white. The parachute is orange and gray.

The troops used a flat-rack truck to haul the drone back to COP Cobra, which was where intelligence officers dismantled it and took it away for inspection. Their conclusion:

This is the first time we have seen a foreignUAV involved in a cross-border incident. The alleged flight path, as well as the design of the aircraft, suggests it is of ___ origin. It is currently unclear as to what the ultimate mission and objective of the UAV was, though the depth of penetration into Iraqi ___ compared with the capabilities of the UAV could suggest it was not an accident.